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04/29/2006

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nada

Service sector still represent 70 % in France ...

Pierre Rochard

High French productivity is due to the 35 hour week and other labor regulations: French companies are constantly under-manned (in order to avoid gigantic "social" costs) so the others have to pick up the slack, ergo higher productivity.

Paco

Dear Judge Posner:

I had wanted to reply to your analysis of lobbying when it first came out, but I was in Egypt that week with Leonor. I had wanted to say that another reason why expenditures on lobbying is so small relative to federal spending is perhaps that the sum of all the efforts of various lobbyists tend cancel each other out at the end of the day.

That is, on any given question or public policy issue, there are a wide variety of lobby groups and thus the efforts of these groups may cancel each other. This, at least, is the impression I get whenever I reread Federalist No. 10: Madison's counter-intuitive and ingenious solution to the problem of factions is not campaign-finance reform or strict controls on lobby groups, but the creation of more lobbies, for the more lobbies there are, the more difficult it is for the various groups to reach an agreement.

On this view, the question is why an 'arms race' has not developed among lobby groups?

Paco

Paco

Judge Posner:

Before I forget, I wanted to make a comment on your comment on 'regulatory taxatation'. I understand your argument in favor of taxes on activities that generate large negative externalities (such as carbon dioxide emissions).

However, while I was Egypt I discovered that the price of oil there is only one British Pound per gallon (or about 20 cents per gallon). Thus Egypt, in effect, subsidizes the emission of carbon dioxide beyond the optimal level.

My concern, then, is similar to the Bush Administration's objection against the Kyoto Protocol: why should consumers in wealthy countries pay higher taxes on oil in order to reduce the externalities associated with oil consumption, when consumers in poor countries do not? It seems we have a difficult coordination problem, since imposing a regulatory tax on oil consumption in poor countries may not be politically feasible.

Paco

David

Judge Posner writes:

"The Lexus is a better car, but it costs three times as much and is it three times better? No. The 18-year-old Macallan (a single-malt Scotch) costs about twice as much as the 12-year-old, but the difference in taste is very slight. This seems a general characteristic of luxury goods. This is the sense in which people of widely different incomes can all consider themselves middle-class without being delusional."

Translation: Let them eat cake, because - after all - cake is pretty good. :)

But more to the point, someone who spends $80K for Lexus that is only marginally better than a $25K Camry cannot truly be considered "middle class." Calling F. Scott Fitzgerald..

Grace Smith

This point about luxury goods is awesome!

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